The Pennsylvania Lottery now means about $1 billion annually to benefit the state's seniors through a host of programs it supports.
So the process by which the state is considering a private management agreement is laudable in its foresight. Pennsylvania's senior population is getting larger and therefore revenue needs to keep up.
Maybe the private sector can do better? That might be the case. But then again, maybe not. With so much money on the line, that question needs to be considered carefully.
Which is why the process has had some troubling elements so far.
First, why the big hurry recently?
The state just recently announced the terms under which it might select a firm for private management, and with that announcement it pointed to the fact that it could enter an agreement by sometime in January.
But it appears that even that timeline might be moved up, with a bid on the table from Camelot Global Services PA LLC valid until Dec. 31.
I'm hoping this has nothing to do with the recently floated idea of a bill — planned for introduction in January — that could curtail the right of a gubernatorial administration to enter into such agreements.
Then there is the information available about this deal on a publicly available bid form linked to administration statements last week.
This is a document that is available so people can "review" the numbers. Makes it sound transparent, doesn't it?
But it's not exactly the most detailed document in the world, and it is specifically missing any understandable indication of how much money the private firm proposes to keep for itself.
There's no reason a firm would go to this length if there is nothing in a deal for it. It has to keep something.
And how exactly would Camelot's proposal be better than what the publicly managed lottery could do? This is, after all, the bottom line the state is looking to achieve and the primary criteria on which this should be judged.
After reading the form, I still don't have the foggiest clue. There are no specified "under public management" vs. "under private management" projections.
The state does say it is evaluating, and hopefully it will release, comparative findings — and its logic for coming to those conclusions — for independent public review before it enters into an agreement.